Jim Hart, of Wallingford, enjoys a grilled cheese sandwich and coffee during lunch Thursday at Center Street Luncheonette, 18 Center St., Wallingford0. The business reopened Wednesday with both indoor and outdoor dining. Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

Local breakfast, lunch spots reopen and reconnect with regulars

Local breakfast, lunch spots reopen and reconnect with regulars

Local breakfast, lunch spots reopen and reconnect with regulars

WALLINGFORD — Amy Fortin opened her restaurant doors to customers this week for the first time in three months.

Fortin closed Center Street Luncheonette, 18 Center St., just a few days before the governor closed all in-person dining across the state in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. While other restaurants stayed open for takeout orders, Fortin felt their menu of breakfast and lunch foods wasn’t meant for carry out.

The mandate was lifted Wednesday for limited indoor seating, and outdoor seating began a month ago. The limited reopening comes with pages of guidelines from the state.

The luncheonette opened with both indoor and outdoor dining on Wednesday.

The town “said we could do outdoor seating and so we borrowed some tables and chairs from Tata’s Restaurant because they don’t need them in the morning,” Fortin said.

She was excited to be open again, but it didn’t feel “normal” at all, especially wearing a face mask. Most people opted to sit inside rather than outside.

“Today’s our first day back, we were happy to see the people that we saw today and we’re grateful for it,” Fortin said. She was hopeful that Father’s Day, normally their second-busiest day of the year, picks up.

The restaurant’s inside tables can’t be moved, so partitions were installed between each booth.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable here, that we’re doing everything here that’s required of us and more so by the health department,” Fortin said.

Dad’s Restaurant

At Dad’s Restaurant, 740 N. Colony Road, things continued mostly as they have for the last month. Even though seating inside was available, owner Chrissy Barton said most people were choosing to eat under the tents outside. She guessed it was because people still feel safer outside and wanted to enjoy a sunny day.

Still, about a dozen different parties opted to eat indoors Wednesday. Waitress Tanya Sweet said it’s nice to have customers back inside, where it’s a little easier to reconnect.

“Our customers are like family that we haven’t seen in three months,” Sweet said. “It’s like a family reunion when they come back.”

Wallingford resident Elly Wu said she’s been a customer of Dad’s since moving to Wallingford three years ago. Before the pandemic, she and her son would eat there about once per week, but lately it’s been almost every day.

Wu ate outside Wednesday, but said she would be comfortable inside if the weather wasn’t great.

“Before everything shut down, Chrissy would go on Facebook Live and she would tell everybody what they were doing to stay safe and everything, so we felt safe coming here,” Wu said.

Alan’s Cup n’ Saucer

Alan’s Cup n’ Saucer Restaurant in Meriden didn’t see a large crowd out on Wednesday, either.

“I’ve had tables in here, but I thought it would be better,” owner Alan Giacco said. “I was thinking people were anticipating getting back out there, but they also could be apprehensive about going out there.”

Meanwhile, Giacco said takeout has been doing well while things are shut down.

“It was more successful than I thought it would ever be,” Giacco said.

So far he’s finding people still opting for takeout, even though they have set up a few tables outside and opened seating indoors.

In February, Giacco said he was hoping to sell and retire from the diner at 443 Colony St., which he has owned for 35 years.

He said that plan hasn’t changed since the pandemic started, but he guesses it will be delayed. He does not plan to close.

bwright@record-journal.com203-317-2316Twitter: @baileyfaywright

"Our customers are like family that we haven't seen in three months. It's like a family reunion when they come back."

-Waitress Tanya Sweet
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